< × >




My ongoing fascination with the written word is evident in this exhibition and I hope that the work here extends the conversation I started in my last show at Greenaway Art Gallery.

After my explorations with saffron and the word ‘love’ (eshg in Farsi / Persian) I became aware of the associations between text and colour - the yellow of madness and love. Life blood, 2010, gave me the opportunity to play with this coincidence. In Farsi text the word for blood (khun) and the casual expression for life (jun) are identical except for the position of one dot adding to the work’s ambiguity.

Guardian, 2010, is a collaborative work with Angela Valamanesh, inspired by one of her earlier works history, 1993. In that work she extended the back of a small wooden chair with white (plaster) branch-like forms. Next to it, on the wall, was a photo of her father as a boy seated on a similar chair. In Guardian, 2010, the extensions are castings of antlers and we have included the impressions of her footprints on the granite base. Three elements come together, animal, human and manmade. The viewer can imagine a person who is no longer there.

Still standing, 2010, is based on a poem by Rumi, which proclaims that the entire world is intoxicated. I have selected the second half of the first five lines of the poem because of their visual and rhythmic qualities that are unfortunately lost in translation. However, here is my attempt drawn from a small book of selected poems that I’ve had for over forty years. I have recently noticed that there are other versions with slight differences in other sources.

master drunk, servant drunk, friend drunk, stranger drunk,
garden drunk, meadow drunk, bud drunk, thorn drunk,
earth drunk, water drunk, air drunk, fire drunk,
spirit drunk, intellect drunk, imagination drunk, thoughts drunk,
song drunk, harp drunk, plectrum drunk, tar drunk,

I recall seeing news footage of a large group of women protesting outside the gates of Evin prison in Tehran where many political prisoners were being kept. These women were the mothers of the prisoners and they were demanding to visit their children and seeking justice and freedom for them. It is difficult for me to imagine their sorrow and anger. Patchwork quilts are made by mothers all around the world to give comfort and warmth to their children. Shades of green, 2010, was inspired by this humble craft and what I imagined these mothers wished for their children. The work is composed of a grid of patch-work using a variety of green fabrics that spell out the word ‘freedom’ (aazadi in Farsi) and the color green in Iran has recently come to symbolize an expression of the desire for freedom, justice and democracy. As there are many shades of green there are different ways and intensities of expressing this desire. Shades of green, 2010, is my expression of support and sympathy for the aspirations of the Iranian people.

Hossein Valamanesh
July, 2010